Pegylated Interferon Boosts Melanoma Survival Rates

Compared with observation alone it significantly improves outcome

FRIDAY, July 11 (HealthDay News) -- Survival rates for melanoma patients improve if they are treated with a pegylated form of interferon alfa-2 versus observation alone, according to a report published in the July 12 issue of The Lancet.

Alexander Eggermont, M.D., Ph.D., of Erasmus University Medical Centre in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and colleagues conducted a study of 1,256 patients with post-surgery stage III melanoma, of whom 627 were randomized to receive pegylated interferon alfa-2b at 6 μg/kg body weight for eight weeks, followed by a 3 μg/kg maintenance dose for five years. The remaining 629 patients in the control group were assigned to observation.

Over a follow-up period of just over 3.5 years, 328 patients in the treatment group had a recurrence of melanoma, versus 368 of the controls. The reduction in recurrence risk was 18 percent for pegylated interferon alfa-2b, declining to 15 percent after four years, the researchers report. However, while 60 patients in the control group experienced serious adverse events, 246 of the treatment patients were affected, and in 191 patients treatment was discontinued due to toxicity, the report indicates.

"The results of this large phase 3 study of adjuvant therapy in patients with stage III melanoma suggest that prolonged treatment with pegylated interferon alfa-2b significantly improves recurrence-free survival compared with observation alone," the authors write.

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